This was delivered at Mike’s funeral on Aug. 19, 2003 by E. Steven Smith, friend, former Central High School principal and current superintendent of the Loundes County school system.
I stand before you today at the request of a family who is very near and dear to my heart and the hearts of everyone present. We are here to pay tribute to the life of William Michael Weaver. We all knew him as Mike. It is indeed an honor and a privilege to be asked to speak about a young man who I have dearly loved as one of my own. In my 27 years as an educator I have become attached to many young people but when they grow up with your children it creates an even greater attachment. This makes losing them even more difficult. Like many of you, I cherish the relationship and the influence that Mike and the Weaver family has cast on my life. In essence, our family is their family just as the case with many of you. Last night at the visitation I felt the tremendous bond of love and friendship that brought hundreds of people together to show their immense adoration and genuine respect for Mike and the Weaver family. The attendance last night is a more remarkable tribute to Mike than I can ever hope to offer today. What I say here today is only an inadequate expression of what we carry in our hearts.
None of us would have ever thought that we would be here today. At times life isn’t fair. Nothing could be more cruel and unfair than to lose a dear friend or even worse, your own child. Words seem quite in adequate to describe the tragic loss of a loved one, especially one who was loved so dearly by family and friends. Words pale in the shadow of grief; they seem insufficient to measure th elife of a yong man who loved life and who loved people. A vacuum of disbelief has filled our hearts and minds such that it makes the entire tragedy seem incomprehensible. No one ever imagines they will be saying goodbye to a 20-year-old man in the prime of his life. But the measure of a man’s life is not calculated in the number of years lived but what he does with those years. The truest testimony of Mike will not be in the words we speak but in what Mike represented through his life during these 20 years. Therefore, we are here today to celebrate the life of a fine young man who lived life to the fullest. Mike was a man filled with the joy of living. Mike loved life and appeared to handle anything life threw at him with a smile. He rarely complained but seemed to take life in stride. He packed a tremendous amount of life into the last 20 years.
Just who was Mike Weaver? Mike was a vibrant and promising young man with a warm and gentle spirit. He was kind, thoughtful, selfless, and had a keen sense of humor. He had a passion for life that touched everyone around him. Mike was like a magnet for people. They were naturally attracted to him. It was impossible not to love Mike Weaver. I have never known anyone who had so many friends or who deserved them more. We have all heard the expression to have a friend you must first be a friend. Mike was a friend to all.
Some knew him as a child. Some knew him as a roommate or fraternity brother. Some knew him as a student. Some knew him as a classmate or a teammate. Some knew him as a player. But we all knew him as a friend. Mike was tall and very handsome. He was voted a Senior Superlative as Best Looking. He was selected for the Middle Georgia Scholar Athlete Award. He had the qualities that every young man would desire because these qualities were appealing to young ladies. Mike had hair. Boy, did he have hair. Long, flowing, light brown hair with body that made him look as though he had just stepped out of a Vidal Sassoon T.V. commercial. He liked to wear it long. I remember on many occasions I would say to Mike, don’t you think its time for a haircut? Mike was intelligent. I really think he viewed using his intelligence sort of like an endurance race. He was pacing himself so he wouldn’t burn out. In the end he was going to make a mad dash to the finish line but he would finish. Now he will finish his race in heaven and I know he will shine for God as one of his Angel All Stars.
Mike was a good athlete. He excelled in football and baseball. I remember the day Mike hit his first homerun. I remember the day he hit the grand slam against Northside High School. I think I was almost as proud as Bill and Erin. I remember Mike scoring his first touchdown as a Central Charger. That year Mike was voted as the Best Receiver. Mike was always one of those athletes who would come through in the clutch. Every coach dreams of having a team of players like Mike Weaver. Mike was quiet and reserved but had a good personality. He was respectful and had astounding manners. He always said main and sir, and please and thank you. Mike was compassionate, mild-mannered and a servant to others. He was not boastful or loud. He was always there when needed. He loved fishing, golf, cooking, animals, music and most of all his friends. Mike truly loved to have a good time. Everyone loved Mike. His friends, his teachers, his fraternity brothers, his coaches and his principals loved Mike. His family loved him dearly. Bill and Erin, Molly and Dan, you have the epitome of a great family relationship. The bond of love and support you have for each other along with the love and support of hundreds of friends and family will help you through this most difficult time.
The things I remember most about Mike were his days with the Vine-Ingle Angels under the leadership of Coach Tom Joyce. Mike loved his coach and just like the rest of the team, Mike would have done anything for his coach. The Angels were a family that extended beyond the players and coaches to the parents as well. Today Mike has been called up to the “Big League” and he is playing on a baseball field in heaven and guess what, he is still an Angel.
Another fond memory of Mike is the great time he had with all his buddies when several courageous dads took about 14 eighth graders camping at Cades Cove during Spring Holidays. Mike and his buddies hiked all over those mountains dragging the poor dads behind them. We managed to return home with only one minor catastrophe and that was Phillip Hogue’s fall.
Mike loved dogs and cats but I don’t think he was too fond of foxes. Last year Mike, Michael, Adam, and Josh lived together in Milledgeville while they attended Georgia College. I gave them a stuffed fox and somehow it always seemed to wind up in the bed with Mike. From the stories I have heard I don’t think Mike had much appreciation for Mr. Tootsus, the fox. I think Mike must have seen too much of the fox because he mysteriously disappeared, so I am told.
It is easy to feel sorry at a funeral: sorry for Mike; sorry for Bill, Erin, Molly and Dan; sorry for oneself. I tell you who I feel sorry for today. I feel sorry for all the many people who did not have the wonderful opportunity of meeting, of knowing, and of loving Mike Weaver. They are the ones who bear the greatest loss. It is very difficult to see these young men like Mike grow up and then lose them prematurely. Sometimes life just isn’t fair. It will be difficult to recover from our loss, but we can hope at least to cope with it. Only time will heal the hurting and lessen the pain. The memory of Mike Weaver will reside in our hearts forever. Mike, we say thank you for the way you brightened our lives, even though God granted you only a small portion of life. We all feel cheated that you were taken from us so young yet we must learn to be grateful that you touched our lives if only for a short while. None of us understands why but we must all place our trust in God. God will sustain us.
Mike’s death doesn’t have to symbolize the end of our relationship with him. If Mike’s death represents the end of this relationship then his life was lived in vain. I really believe the message Mike would send to us today is a message of love and friendship. We should all love one another. Let us all share this bond of love that unites us all and spread this love to everyone we meet. One of my favorite sayings is, “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s life everyday.” Ultimately we are remembered by what we give not what we take. Mike gave us many rainbows. I’m sure Mike would ask each of us to remember him through the many fond memories we share of him. Remember the happy times and most of all remember the many ways he touched each of our lives and thus we will always carry a part of Mike with us.
Bill, Erin, Molly and Dan, may you find comfort through your trust in God. The scripture says in Psalms 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in Spirit.” May the thoughts and prayers of all those who love you sustain you through the days ahead. May you find solace in your many special memories and in the thoughts of the happy years you all shared with Mike. May God bless each of you.